I believe you may be a lifter. I also guess that deadlifts and bicep curls make
most of your days and not the half marathons. Who has time for cardio anyway? Don’t
you think it gonna chew your hard-earned muscle gain? Yes and no… it will only
depend on how you do it.
So, does cardio burn muscle mass?
Though cardio is quite popular,
one thing it never does is to burn muscles. And this is not in the sense of a
regular boxing and/or running sessions. To say, ultra-marathons and extreme
endurance sports move along their own leagues and uniqueness. And in fact, your
habitual cardio might bless you with a dozen of pros if you are a lifter. For
example, your insulin sensitivity will increase, you will have a nicer blood
flow and may be you will have developed stamina as a result of enhanced
endurance and performance.
- Better blood flow
Cardio increases the
capillaries number of your body. This essentially means that you will be
developing a more efficient blood flow system. And the effect of these extra
capillaries are to facilitate a further transportation of nutrients and oxygen.
This way, minerals will access more organs where they are needed for a main
In addition, cardio also
improves recovery and DOMs simply by guiding blood to the needy and specific
muscles. For example, you have just hopped off that finishing set of squats and
are now engaged on some stretches. Then it turns out that it would have been
better to take a steady walk on the cross-trainer firstly. If you have more
power for your legs, your heart will have to make sure that it pumps the oxygenated
blood to your legs. This pumped nutrient dense blood will aid your damaged
muscles with a quick recovery, and result to less DOMs.
- Increased performance
You always have to encounter
and deal with increased performance. The cardiovascular training will equip you
with efficiency and therefore you can better handle endurance activities and
lead you to stamina boosts. With your aerobic and anaerobic base growing, you
will also be improving the workload to muster.
Therefore, whenever you want to
rep out on any long and deep sets, then you are able to handle it. If you lack
this fitness base that’s built with cardio, then fifteen reps might be a quick
and much of a burn. The same also applies to the anaerobic athletes who basically
ought to recover in between bouts of extreme exertion, for example football
players, CrossFit fanatics and boxers.
- Lower insulin sensitivity
A slightly regular cardio is
also associated with improvement in blood sugar. Recent research found that the
physical activities (inclusive of cardio) helps to reduce the insulin
resistance, the type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. And what does it mean
for your muscles? It means improvement in insulin sensitivity which allows your
body to process carbohydrates better.
In addition, improved insulin
sensitivity aids your muscles in absorption of nutrients in much easier way.
Therefore, your body can translate these improvements to count in for overall recovery,
performance, and growth.
Is cardio a muscle builder?
Yes. It is very possible to
build muscle with cardio – it’s legit. There are many studies out here to prove
One conspicuous study published in the 2014 issue of Exercise Sports Science Review had Konopka et al verifying that they and others had demonstrated that aerobics exercise attributed to acute and chronical alteration of protein metabolism, and that induces hypertrophy of the skeletal muscle. Or, cardio influenced the size gains in short.
The researchers proved also
that for an effective aerobic exercise, for purposes of muscle building, you
will need to do a required effort. The growth magic number laid ranges between
70 and 80% – a high intensity. It gets obvious thinking about high-intensity
and hypertrophy, right? Do you know any sprinter? Pay a look at his or her
legs. They are jacked, right?
Cardio enhances muscle building
A Mid Sweden University research notes that striding out to the track may also attribute to your size gains. Their study had ten men of age range, 25-30, who went on a 5-week training protocol. With their objective being ‘to understand how cardio affected muscle growth’, these men did 45-minutes of cycling with a single leg before performing seven reps knee extensions. It was strictly the other leg used for knee extensions, and not the cycling leg.
Then, the research team took an MRI scan of each leg after it was all done, that is, the 5-week plan. They found out that both legs depicted an increase in size gains. However, the cycling leg had increased in volume by 14-17% while the non-cycling leg had only grown by 8-9%.
The official statement stated
that the results had suggested that the increased aerobic capacity by AE+RE was
associated with a more robust increase in muscle size as compared with RE,
where RE meant resistance exercise – better gains.
Can you do too much cardio?
Before going and tanking on the
treadmill for 3 straight hours, we will need to backtrack. Yes, you can do too
much cardio and it’s easy to do it. Many people’s perception linger on more
performance and the better you get. So, they will either keep performing
further every session of an exercise or retire earlier to a dormant life and
end regretting. Or they might also topple over to overuse and succumb to injury.
One of the studies confirmed this through examining body composition of
ultra-marathon runners after a race.
Impact of endurance races on
One study found out that at the
end of a certain controlled race, athletes had lost 50% of visceral body fat averagely.
And on top of that, they had also reduced in the lean mass of their legs by 7%.
The RSI and Injury
Yet another muscle-wrecking risk
accompanying cardio, injuries have dominated much athlete’s performance. The
injuries are in form of repetitive strain injury (RSI) that commonly occur in
joints (ones experiencing the excessive repetitive movement).
What about overtraining the
Exerting too much of cardio
into the mix makes your body be in a constant fight of recovery. Before it
comes to a full circle, it will be back in the race to catch up with your every
day’s run. Overtraining sabotages your gains severely. The signs that indicates
an overtraining include strength loss, constant fatigue, lack of sleep, mass
muscle loss, mood swings and maybe a tanked testosterone.
To what extent can you go with
cardio without risks and yet gain muscles?
Cardio is greatly beneficial to
you and your gains. You just need a better or smart approach. Toning down your
cardio to 2 or 3 sessions per week can maintain your peak condition. Again, if
you hop between training sessions going for 20 to 40 minutes, it is also more
than enough. And one smart way to deal with this fear factor is by seeing
cardio as something new. It will programming and planning of your workouts much
Try setting different days for cardio
It is very smart to set your
cardio days different from strength days. For some aligning reasons, you will
find most gym goers hitting the air-dyne bike either before or after their
weight training days or sessions. However, this concurrent type of training is
not always constructive. It should only be done by weight-losing athletes, and
for short periods. The reason is because they run the risk of chronic
interference, especially when the body is overloaded by the needs of cardio and
If you go out amongst the gym
goers and ask if cardio burns muscle, they will tell you it does. We are always
in two camps of either a cardio crusade or a barbell brigade. However, one get stereotypically
yoked while the other is supposedly weak and stringy. If both helps, why can’t
we do both of them? Science acknowledges this, but why can’t we embrace it? Evidently,
if we adopt a sensible amount of cardio, it is very efficient for our gains.